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How Has the Legal Profession Changed?

When I started practicing law in the 1980s, it is hard for me to fathom that many of the already practicing lawyers were just beginning to interact with women lawyers. Actually, that should not be a major surprise since some law schools didn’t accept women until the 1950s (Harvard) and others had so few women that a woman lawyer was a novelty. It is quite true that society has changed dramatically. In fact, many law schools now have more women than men in their student body. That was the case at my law school in the late 1970s-early 1980s. Of course, it takes decades for a profession to feel the full effects of the changing profile.

There are those of us who remember when Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court in 1981. Here, in Massachusetts, Margaret Marshall was appointed Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1999 after having served three years as Associate Justice. These landmark events have long since been superseded by the proliferation of women attorneys and judges. That is a good thing. As it turns out, my firm is consistent with the trend, having four attorneys, two women and two men.

We have reached the day where the appointment of a woman “to the bench” raises no eyebrows and doesn’t really make news. In that sense, silence is golden.

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